By Jon Lees — Shadwell Estate Company’s Mostahdaf (IRE) produced an electric burst of acceleration to claim his first top-level prize June 21 with a victory in the £1 million Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1), securing an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) via the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
Now in its 16th season, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 stakes races whose winners receive automatic qualifying positions, with fees paid, into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes attracted a small but select field in which Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Luxembourg (IRE), Godolphin’s Adayar (IRE) and James Wigan and Ballylinch Stud’s Bay Bridge (GB) were the perceived principal runners.
But none were able to respond to Mostahdaf once he loomed on the outside then sprinted past, sweeping to a 4-length success in the 1-1/4-mile feature under jockey Jim Crowley.
Three-time G1 winner Luxembourg, the 2-1 favorite, set out to make all the running and was pestered for the first half of the race by Kentucky West Racing & Clarke M Cooper’s Classic Causeway, with Mostahdaf rating in the rear.
Propelled on the outside, Mostahdaf shook off Classic Causeway by the turn and drew off to win in an emphatic manner. Luxembourg held off the challenge of Adayar in the straight by a half-length to secure the runner-up spot.
A 5-year-old son of Frankel (GB), Mostahdaf finished in a time of 2:05.95 on a course rated good. The win enhanced the reputation of Equinox (JPN), the No. 1-rated horse in the latest Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, who trounced Mostahdaf in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) in his previous start.
Mostahdaf had not previously won above the Group 3 level, but served notice of his progress since finishing last in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) by recording a 7-length success in the Neom Turf Cup (G3) in Saudi Arabia in February.
He travelled on to Dubai where he took on Japanese superstar Equinox in the 1-1/2 mile Sheema Classic, finishing 7 lengths back in fourth.
“He did it in Riyadh, winning the Neom Cup in that style,” said co-trainer John Gosden. “When the ground dries up he’s a brilliant horse.
“The amount he quickened past the others did surprise me, but he was in top form. We were going to run him in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes (G2) but he didn’t quite recover from his Middle Eastern campaign.”
Crowley said: “This horse is beautifully bred and ran in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) two years ago. He’s been knocking on the door in these big races and it’s only now that it has come to fruition. He’s a bit of a handful in the preliminaries but once he gets his mind on the job in the race, he is a class horse.”
Aidan O’Brien was pleased with Luxembourg’s run and said he would not be considered for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) at Ascot, a 1 1/2-mile contest where he will likely meet Adayar again.
Adayar was kept in training as a 5-year-old specifically to try to add a Group 1 win at the distance to his record, but trainer Charlie Appleby conceded that plan has not worked.
“He showed us he is a mile and a half horse,” he said. “We were intending to go forward ourselves but he wasn’t out of the stalls quick enough. It turned into a bit of a sprint, which is not what he’s renowned for. We tried it and we need to go back to what he is proven at, so it will be the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.”
The July 29 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth awards the winner a free berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Mostahdaf to start in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), which will be run at 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita Park. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.